Appointments

866.320.4573

Request an Appointment

Questions

800.223.2273

Contact us with Questions

Expand Content

2011 Spring Image of the Issue

Heart & Vascular Institute Physician eNewsletter - Spring 2011

With a non-contrast Computed Tomography (CT) scan, physicians can get a clearer picture of whether a patient’s risk factors such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels or high body mass index should be treated more aggressively with a non-contrast Computed Tomography (CT) scan. A low-radiation dose non-contrast CT can show calcium deposits in the coronary arteries, the aorta or the aortic root, and signal the need for aggressive medical therapy with cholesterol lowering medications—or basic maintenance, such as a stringent exercise program that will reverse risk for major adverse cardiac events.

"The non-contrast CT is a screening test that is ideal for physicians in preventive medicine who serve as the front line,"says Balaji Tamarappoo, MD, PhD, associate staff, cardiovascular medicine, Cleveland Clinic Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute.

Consider this patient scenario:
A 50-year-old male presents with high cholesterol, but is otherwise healthy.  A non-contrast CT scan can help a physician "see"behind the numbers that the cholesterol test presents. "If the physician finds calcium in one or more coronary arteries, he or she can show that image to the patient to reinforce that the increased circulating cholesterol is now affecting the patient’s coronary arteries,"he says. From there, the physician can make more informed decisions about appropriate treatment and prescribing life-style modification.

 

Image A shows calcium in the left main coronary artery, which puts this patient at high risk for a cardiac event, such as heart attack or sudden cardiac death. Plaque in the left main is a serious red flag.

 

Image B shows calcium in the right coronary artery, whereas this may not be as serious as a left main lesion the presence of calcium still puts this patient at an increased risk.

Image C depicts calcium in the aortic root—a region that should not be overlooked in a non-contrast CT scan.

The non-contrast CT would not be conducted on a 75-year-old patient with chest pain, high blood pressure and diabetes. "You do not do this test if you already know the patient is high-risk,"Dr. Tamarappoo says. "This test is for patients who fall in that intermediate risk category.”

More Information

Reviewed: 04/11

Talk to a Nurse: Mon. - Fri., 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. (ET)

Call a Heart & Vascular Nurse locally 216.445.9288 or toll-free 866.289.6911.

Schedule an Appointment

Toll-free 800.659.7822

This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

© Copyright 2015 Cleveland Clinic. All rights reserved.

HealthHub from Cleveland Clinic

Read the Latest from Our Experts About » cctopics » Heart & Vascular Health
Love Your Heart
1/30/15 4:10 p.m.
Heart-healthy eating is on American minds. But a new nationwide survey by Cleveland Clinic reveals that most of us are still puzzled about which foods — and which diet — ar...
by Heart & Vascular Team
Pneumonia May Raise Heart Disease Risk as Much as Smoking
1/29/15 7:00 a.m.
Pneumonia may be as big a risk factor for heart disease as smoking or diabetes, especially in adults older than...
Why Statins May Offer Treatment Benefits for Your Aortic Aneurysm
1/28/15 8:04 a.m.
If you have coronary artery disease or peripheral vascular disease, using statins is clearly a benefit to your ...
15 Heart-Healthy Foods to Work into Your Diet
1/27/15 1:30 p.m.
A healthy diet can be good for your heart as well as your waistline. “You can definitely reduce your risk of de...
If You Have Diabetes and Coronary Blockages, Watch This (Video)
1/26/15 8:32 a.m.
If you have diabetes and need treatment for chronic static angina — the kind that causes chest pain from ...